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One New Thing
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
One New Thing: The past and future of chat.

Steve Coffman has produced an interesting article for Information Today called To Chat Or Not to Chat — Taking Another Look at Virtual Reference, Part 1. What I found stuck out the most for me was how many online fee-based question-and-answer services have come and then gone so quickly. Library online answer services are growing, but many don't have impressive usage numbers to back them up.

Considering how easy it seems to be for people to integrate instant messaging into their online lives, this is a bit disappointing, but I have to say I’m not sure I would choose chat as my preferred method of contacting a library in the first instance – for a quick query it’s quicker to phone, for a long one I’d write a long email and give the other person plenty of time to read it. I would use chat as the point-of-need option, I think: looking at the library’s website and trying to work out how to use a database, maybe. I’d be interested to hear if other librarians feel they would use chat themselves as a way of contacting a library?

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